Lifestyle linked epigenetic differences found between higher and lower educated Dutch people

There are differences in DNA-methylation patterns on genes between higher and lower educated Dutch people that may be linked to lifestyle. This is the conclusion of research done by the Netherlands Twin Register of the Free University Amsterdam, together with researchers from the BBMRI-NL BIOS consortium.

Lower educated Dutch people are in general less healthy and have a lower life expectancy of around 6 to 7 years, compared to those with a higher education. There is still a lot unclear about the causes of this gap. DNA-methylation arranges which genes are ‘on’ and which genes are ‘off’ and this has on influence on health and life expectancy.

The researchers tested the level of methylation at around 400.000 sites in the DNA in blood samples for their relationship with educational achievement. These more than 4000 involved Dutch people are participants in one of four Dutch cohort studies that are part of BBMRI: Lifelines-Deep, the Leiden Longevity Study, the Netherlands Twin Register, and the Rotterdam Study. The researchers found 58 locations in the DNA where the methylation-level in blood cells differed between higher and lower educated Dutch people.

The results from this study are available for researchers through the online BBMRI database.

Read the article published in NPJ Science of Learning.

Read the story behind the article.